Less Tits n' Ass, More Kickin' Ass

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It’s a two-fer! Courtesy of @dcwomenkickingass, and specifically this post, I had to do an edit of these, while my storyboards wait. 

I’m not going to go into long explanations here, I hope the drawings do speak for themselves. In the first case, it’s a Land being Land, although I do have to say that he did give a butt to Silk, as opposed to his usual ablation of hips and gluteus maximi. However, he unfortunately did it wrong. 

Artistic anatomy is all about drawing structure, from the inside out. Your muscles by themselves can’t look right if they aren’t placed on top of a properly proportioned skeleton.  Boobs won’t look right if they aren’t drawn as following the curve of the ribcage, its center line, or the movement of the arms which either pull or push on the pectorals on which the breasts hang. The arms back mean the shoulders are lowered, and the angle of the hands will be different since there’s a 3/4 turn on the torso. It shows that Land is drawing by guessed shapes, copied contours and practiced repeated motions. There’s no real structure underneath his shapes.

And if we look at the legs, I can only picture Kitty Pride phasing out of a wall: the legs look like they got mangled up to look like stumps. But even structure-wise, there is no thought put into whether the pose actually works, which is why it looks so clumsy. The legs should be reversed due to the line of action that’s in the torso but not followed through into the pelvis and legs. And I’ve been using the coil technique a lot in order to make my volumes work - it should be obvious by the roughs above - which help me figure out things like foreshortening. 

Silk too was a problem of lack of structure, proportions all over the place, and lack of weight and purpose, but it felt moreso than Spiderwoman. I used the same pose Land did but worked out the skeleton first, using rotation arcs in order to properly proportion the length of the various limbs. I don’t know these characters and I might not have used these poses, but Silk here definitely looks like she’s dancing.

The variant cover by Manara looks like a pose right out of porn, pelvis up and cheeks spread, costume looking like body paint, and it makes me very uncomfortable. She doesn’t look like a superhero about to strike, she looks like she’s about to get… well, it’s a porn pose. This is sexualisation. It also reminds me of the Dog Bone sexy shape. 

So I turned the pose sideways to figure it out, and to see what would work better. The sideways pose as is, as you can see, is angled to do quite the opposite of ass-kicking. Were she to try to leap from that pose, she’d fall flat on her face. The second pose is the “coiled like a spring”, but in the camera angle of the cover, it’s an ugly, ugly pose. So I tried to do something in-between, and just by making the pelvis horizontal and lifting the torso off the ground, I’ve managed to move the center of gravity so her weight is on her feet instead of her knees, she can use her arms to maneuver in most directions, and you still get an interesting body shape to look at. I think this works better, and much more ready to spring into motion.

Wanted also to say thanks for all the reblogs, likes and recent follows! I appreciate each one of them, and it’s because you’re still sharing and commenting that I came back to do this. However I’m still really busy! I won’t be posting a lot, but I do plan on posting more than I have. Back to storyboards for me! 

Aug 9
kanthara:

Oh hey artists and those who want to be artists! 

Betty Edwards’ book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” is available as a starter kit at Chapters! I don’t know if the kit is available online, but I saw it on one of the tables on my way out of the store. You can check Indigo, as well, since it’s all the same company. 

This is one of those how to draw books that I readily recommend because I find it is the best book to learn how to draw what you see, not what you know. If you don’t have it yet and have a Chapters near by, go and get it. It’s worth it.

kanthara:

Oh hey artists and those who want to be artists!

Betty Edwards’ book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” is available as a starter kit at Chapters! I don’t know if the kit is available online, but I saw it on one of the tables on my way out of the store. You can check Indigo, as well, since it’s all the same company.

This is one of those how to draw books that I readily recommend because I find it is the best book to learn how to draw what you see, not what you know. If you don’t have it yet and have a Chapters near by, go and get it. It’s worth it.

Aug 5

After reading your blog I decided to try the boobs and butt pose.. and it worked (painfully). So I suppose it is possible.. however I have Ehlers-Danlos and am capable of doing stuff that people without the disorder couldn't and shouldn't do. Also it looks totally gross and unnatural when I do it.

Anonymous

The point of the boobs and butt pose has been explained in this blog both by myself and other people I’ve reblogged. It’s not a natural pose. It’s a forced one. It’s one that happens only on purpose, or during a particular effort (see She-Hulk demonstration), and when it’s in the latter case, it’s a snapshot pose. It’s not one that lasts, it’s a transition pose.

When a person turns in surprise, the whole body shifts and turns. The hips don’t lock in place and the torso doesn’t swivel at the waist. I have seen people demonstrate that it IS possible to do a “boobs and butt” pose, but every single time it looks stiff, unnatural, strained, and too obviously staged in order to show said boobs and butt. 

And you mention you have a condition that allows you to do it, but you comment that it was painful and looks unnatural. So yes, you do illustrate that the point remains. Boobs and butt poses are a problem, and they really shouldn’t be drawn anymore. 

Aug 3

Are you aware of Hark, a vagrant's webcomics about Strong Female Characters?

But of course! And I adore them. I think I made fanart at some point. Need to find it…

Aug 3

Can I ask for some advice? I am thinking of a design for a character, but I am unsure about a few things.

Anonymous

You could, if you email me directly. Check my “who’s behind this thing” link in the side bar. Since you’re anonymous, I can’t reply to you only, so sorry about the public, extremely general reply.

This goes for everyone. I’m not anonymous, here. If you want to ask me questions that aren’t directly related to badly drawn comic book women, you can contact me directly. Keep in mind I’m really busy with storyboards (which I why I don’t post here much anymore, these analyses take hours to research, redraw and type up) but I do read email, and unless you’re asking me for hours of my time, I can give you feedback. 

I wonder how nobody's submitted anything from Kill la Kill at this point? I guess that anime's problem is old news by now.

Anonymous

Honestly, I tend to focus a lot more on North American comics on this blog, and even then I can’t remember the last time I actually sat down and read a comic. I’m aware of many, many manga with loads of problems that I could address here, but there’s only so many hours in a day, and I’ve been spending a ton of said hours on storyboards, so I haven’t read manga either (although my sons have been borrowing Soul Eater and Fairy Tail from the library, so I got a glimpse of those). I don’t even know what Kill la Kill is. Sorry!

Work is almost done on this show, so I’ll be able to revisit my saved folder of half-started redlines and post a few new corrections soon. 

I just want to say that I love your redlines. The other redline blogs of this type that I have seen tend to have submissions that look less interesting than the originals, but you understand the need for dynamism. I appreciate that.

That’s a compliment I really take to heart. As a storyboard artist, it’s important for me to think about things in motion when I draw still images. I think my weaker redraws are those where I stick too much to the original pose and image, which makes them stiff; I’ve learned that hiding the layer with the original image when redrawing the pose makes a much better drawing in the end. 

Thanks!

kanthara:

krudman:

Why, yes. Yes, I am a character designer that works in the game industry. How could you tell???

THIS SO MUCH THIS I pointed this out in lesstitsnass and it’s so very true. And wrong.

Criticism, rape threats, double standards and other issues

I wish this didn’t have to be said again. I know many people have spoken about this, written about this, and yet the issue keeps coming back again and again. 

This blog, which I haven’t updated in a long time, is full of criticism about the way women get portrayed in comics, and I knew the risks of writing it included getting attacked for my opinions, not on the opinions themselves, but on my person. And yes, it has happened. I have been called a feminazi. I have been called a crazy pedantic cunt. I have received threats, but far fewer of those than other women have. How did I react to these posts? Mostly, by focusing on the positive feedback, concentrating on those divergent opinions that talk about the content of my posts, and by not feeding the trolls.

Not feeding the trolls. Because that’s what we’re taught to do on the interwebz, right? Well, there’s a difference between trolls and threats of actual physical violence and abuse. And this is definitely something that should be stopped by calling it out, reporting it.

So I was reading gimpnelly's article in xojane and made the mistake of reading the comments, which made me go through a series of emotions that I have trouble putting in words. 

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Someone tell me how making a cover appealing to a wider audience means that it should appeal only to women? This is the fallacy of things being taken away from men.

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Right. It’s never happened to you so therefore it’s the other girl’s fault for “being pretty”. Also, because she’s threatened with rape she’s on the defensive and she’s told she should just calm down and be reasonable. 

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This guy spent HOURS on the site saying “but don’t you understand me? I’m saying it’s not all men, I’m playing devil’s advocate, you paint us all with the same brush” and also “educate me on how to be a feminist ally”. And when people told him the basics of “stop talking, start listening, stop playing devil’s advocate, we know it’s not all men”, he turned around and started telling everyone THEY were wrong. 

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Remember that post I made about “sexy, sexism and sexualisation”? There was a follow-up question about sexual context, as well. Magic  Mike is about a sexual context, so yes, we are ogling men being sexy because that is what the context of this movie is. And that follow-up thing about an obese geriatric amputee is just plain stupid. 

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First of all, who says Teen Titans caters to adolescent boys? Second, who says the cover has to cater to women only? Third, realism here is about the fact that these are supposed to be TEENS. Fourth, this is the root of the subject of the post I wanted to write in the first place, although I got really distracted by the rest of the feminism arguments that happened all over that comment thread. 

Getting back to the Magic Mike comment, the example was given to show that women objectify men in a sexual manner the same way men objectify women. The example is a bad one because of, as I stated above, the context of the movie is sexual in nature. The cover that was being criticised is not. A fairer comparison would have been that Thor 1 scene where he is shirtless and putting on jeans. This scene was there for pure titillation and it did its job very well. But that scene, presenting a man as, well, yummy, is far far less frequent than the same kind of scene presenting a woman. Then again, we’re still not in a completely fair comparison, because the cover wasn’t about showing us how hot the character is, but showing the group of heroes. 

The whole catering thing is an issue because — okay. Let me put it this way. 

I am a white, straight cis-female who’s thin. Therefore, I have privilege. I see characters who look like me in a lot of the media I consume. This is why I didn’t notice there was a problem in representation for the longest time. Oh, as a kid I’d notice there were only two female characters in GI-Joe, and if I didn’t call Lady Jane fast enough I’d have to play the Baroness; I made up a female Transformer character in my own stories before the show added them in at a later season because that was really missing. I’d notice that shows with teams were often built of a bunch of guys and a token female. For the longest time I thought Tweety Bird was a girl and was really disappointed to find out that wasn’t true. But the females that WERE on the shows were white, pretty, thin, and basically looked similar enough to me for me to identify with them.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love Gargoyles. I love this property so much because it has so many good things in it, but it also has problems, and it’s because I love it so much that I’m choosing it as an example of my wider scale criticism. Gargoyles are humanoid creatures with wings and tails, the grotesque creatures that adorn old castles and churches, and in this story, break out of their stone shells to live at night. Their shapes and colours are as varied as anything, even moreso than humans are, especially where size is concerned. There’s a tall, V-torsoed hero who represents the idealized figure of heroics. The barrel-chested geriatric member of the group is a warrior past his prime. Then you have three young ones, from the small to the athletically lean to the fat one. And that’s just the main cast. All male. Much variance.

And then you have the one (token) female. Thin. Traditionally beautiful. Actually, every other female gargoyle was built on the same model. To prove my point, here’s a sampling.

It took a little over 10 years before we got new Gargoyles in the comics, and thankfully the mold was broken with Constance and with Sacrifice; but the point remains that the character designers and art director on the show did not take risks when it came to designing female characters because anything out of the above template is considered undesirable in most media.

Therefore, the message we send everyone is that while male heroes can come in all shapes and sizes, females only come in one. And if you, as a consumer of said media, don’t fit the template, well, sucks to be you. Suck to be you because you don’t see yourself anywhere, and sucks to be you because everyone becomes blind to the existence (and acceptability) of varying body types like yours. What happens when people add in a diverse female character? It risks becoming a token, recognised only as its difference from the established norm, not a person. Not the way male characters who are older or younger, or chubbier or less stacked, are seen as different people. And I haven’t even addressed how race of either gender comes with typecasting and tokenism.

Getting back to female characters, we need variety in design that allows for story-relevant design choices, like drawing a teenager like a teenager, not like the adults who play teenagers on TV, for instance.

The big problem is that in comics, there’s also a template, and it also needs to be broken. Unfortunately, post-New52 got rid of variety, Amanda Waller being a prime example. In truth, the problem lies in having trouble accepting things we’re not used to seeing. The more variety in design we’re exposed to, the less fringe or token that variety will seem, the more acceptable it will become in the audience’s eyes, and the more everyone will find people they recognise themselves in in the media they consume. But as much as it has to come from creators to create these kinds of characters, it has to come from the audience to accept these designs, to call out when things could be done better, and to see criticism as a way to question the validity of the status quo and to make things better, not as an attack on the things we like and a call to destroy them. And if we could just keep the physical and sexual violence threats out of the equation, we would all be better off.

Disney: Say No to the Merida Makeover, Keep Our Hero Brave!

Thanks for the heads up, perpetuallurkernazanin, I definitely signed this one. 

I invite you to do the same, tumblrs!